Leading the world to better health

Leading the world to better health
            U   T

          N   R

       A EPO


Leading the world to better health
Leading the world to better health
RCSI ANNUAL REPORT 2019-2020            1

                    Our response to COVID-19                                                                       2
                    President’s review                                                                             4
                    Council members                                                                                8
                    Chief Executive’s review                                                                      12

                 Surgery                                                                                          18

                 A transformative learning experience                                                             26

                 Leading impactful research                                                                       42

                 Supporting healthcare and society                                                                52

                 Professional training                                                                            64

                International campuses                                                                           72

                 Enabling our vision                                                                              78
                 Appendices			                                                                                    91

                                   This report covers RCSI’s operations during the period 1 July 2019 – 30 June 2020.
                                                      Some photography featured pre-dates the COVID-19 pandemic.

  On the cover: Leading impactful research – Natalie McEvoy, PhD candidate at the School of Nursing and Midwifery
and Clinical Research Nurse in the Department of Critical Care and Anaesthesia has harnessed her skills to get clinical
       research studies on critically ill patients started promptly in response to the pandemic. Read more on page 36.
Leading the world to better health
2     RCSI ANNUAL REPORT 2019-2020

                                                                                                for surgical
                                                                                                training and
                                                                                                > National guidelines for
                                                                                                   surgeons in COVID-19
                                                                                                > Curated COVID-19
                                                                                                   web resource for
                                                                                                > Weekly webinars and
                                                                                                   President’s letter
                                                                                                > Surgical trainee
                                                                                                   interviews brought
                                                                                                   forward by three
                                                                                                > Take-home skills kits
                                                                                                   for surgical trainees

    Our response
                                                                                                > Simulation facilities for
                                                                                                   research on PPE
                                                                                                   breathing apparatus
                                                                                                   during surgery

    to COVID-19
Resources for frontline healthcare workers
> “Conversations that matter” weekly webinars with the HSE
> GP-Surgeons Connect, with ICGP for rapid connection of GPs with
   surgeon advisors
> Positive mental health training and resources
> Personal leadership and self-care podcasts
> Weekly e-zines to support our clinicians and alumni
> COVID-19 website resource hub

                                                                     Supporting the national effort
                                                                     > Supported HSE to deliver national contact tracing
                                                                         training programme
                                                                     > 3,066 users registered on Contact Management
                                                                         Programme resource
                                                                     > New system to provide up-to-date information on
                                                                         the availability of critical care beds in ICU
                                                                     > Over 20 RCSI medical students volunteered at
                                                                         hospital intensive care units
                                                                     > Provided training on prone positioning
                                                                     > Upskill training on the use of ventilation equipment
                                                                     > Researchers produced essential reagents and
                                                                         buffers in RCSI labs to support testing
                                                                     > RCSI COVID-19 newsletter to update politicians
Leading the world to better health
RCSI ANNUAL REPORT 2019-2020        3

                                                                                               the healthcare
                                                                                               > Final medicine exams brought
                                                                                                  forward enabling 312 future
                                                                                                  doctors from 32 countries
                                                                                                  to join the frontline
                                                                                               > 1,211 applicants from 38
                                                                                                  countries completed overseas
                                                                                                  Aptitude Test to register as a
                                                                                                  nurse in Ireland
                                                                                               > Induction of 180 new interns
                                                                                                  facilitated at simulation centre
                                                                                               > Final year physiotherapy
                                                                                                  students completed exams early

Impactful research for
patients and frontline workers
> Investigating blood clotting abnormalities in
   COVID-19 patients
> Clinical trial of a therapy for critically ill COVID-19
   patients in intensive care
> Programme for facial PPE sterilisation
> Preventing facial pressure ulcers in healthcare staff
> Detecting COVID-19 infection using exhaled breath
> Study investigating pathogenesis of COVID-19
> New treatment regimens to reduce the severity of

                                                             Continuity for our staff and students
                                                             > Business planning group established
                                                             > Rapid acceleration of digitally engaged learning
                                                             > TeleSim programme to simulate clinical training
                                                             > New satellite campus at Croke Park
                                                             > Smaller learning communities for students
                                                             > Regular Chief Executive and Dean communications to staff and
                                                             > #RCSItogether positive culture initiative to support wellbeing
                                                             > IT super users to support transition to remote working

Bringing expert-driven
information to the public
> RCSI spokespeople contributed to expert media
   commentary and thought leadership
> Six-fold increase in domestic media coverage
   totalling 3,441 media mentions January – June 2020
> Expert commentary and COVID-19 research
   reached international media including New York
   Times, The Guardian, BBC, Australia’s Nine News
> Resources to manage COVID-19 anxiety provided
   through social media and website
Leading the world to better health
4   RCSI ANNUAL REPORT 2019-2020


                                                                                                    Mr Kenneth Mealy, President

We are living through the most extraordinary public health crisis we have ever
experienced. The dedication of health care workers across the country has
been inspiring and we cannot overstate the sacrifice that has been made so that
COVID-19 patients can be cared for. I extend my deepest gratitude to Ireland’s
healthcare workers and I want to acknowledge, in particular, the ultimate sacrifice
made by healthcare staff who died after contracting the virus.
                Numerous examples of leadership has been shown         practice and surgical trainees.
                and many issues have come to the fore including the
                pivotal role of primary care in protecting the acute   A comprehensive suite of resources was created and
                hospital system from overload, the importance of       curated for the RCSI website. We also launched a
                the integration of community, secondary and tertiary   webinar series aimed at addressing the issues of
                care and the necessity for protected capacity for      greatest concerns to surgeons at this time. The
                scheduled surgical care.                               feedback has been overwhelming positive and the
                                                                       series will continue over the coming months. A
                I hope that some of the lessons learnt from the        weekly message from the President sought to share
                management of this crisis will inform health service   meaningful updates to the surgical community and
                planning and reform into the future.                   that too will continue.

                Supporting surgeons                                    Surgical training
                Providing support to colleagues on the frontline       Over the past year, the Surgical Training pathway
                emerged as a core objective from the outset of the     continued to innovate in response to evolving
                crisis. We have sought to provide clear guidance and   training needs.
                share helpful resources to benefit surgeons in
Leading the world to better health
RCSI ANNUAL REPORT 2019-2020       5

     Providing an alternative opportunity to suitably     Surgical research
     qualified and experienced candidates to apply for    Promoting surgical research remained an important
     places in specialty training, the Equivalent         objective for me during the year. I am firmly of the
     Standards Route (ESR), was activated last year.      view that data on healthcare outcomes should be at
                                                          the centre of decision-making in health policy.
     The new Specialty Training Post Quality Standards
     were launched across the 12 specialties in 2019.     An important study from the Healthcare Outcomes
     These standards set the benchmark for training       Research Centre at RCSI and the National Clinical
     site quality in line with the requirements of the    Programme in Surgery was published in BMJ Open
     College and the Medical Council’s criteria for       in November. The study demonstrated an
     quality assurance mechanisms in place at training    association between surgeon volume and mortality
     bodies.                                              outcomes in emergency abdominal surgery,
                                                          showing that low volume surgical teams had
     In September 2019, RCSI welcomed the first intake    consistently higher mortality for emergency
     to the Masters in Surgical Science and Practice.     abdominal surgery than high volume surgical
     Designed and led by Professor Oscar Traynor, the     teams.
     innovative programme covers the entire curriculum
     for Core Surgical Training, in one year. Graduates   These findings need to be considered by the
     are prepared to commence surgical training in the    Hospital Groups, HSE, National Clinical Programme
     clinical environment at a more advanced level with   in Surgery and at political level.
     documented and verifiable knowledge, skills and
     behaviours.                                          Gender diversity
                                                          I am pleased that the implementation of the
     Global surgery                                       recommendations of the report by RCSI’s Working
     I am delighted that Professor Mark Shrime was        Group on Gender Diversity continued during the
     appointed as O’Brien Chair of Global Surgery this    year. It is particularly encouraging that the
     year. Co-author of the ground-breaking Lancet        proportion of female trainees commencing surgical
     Commission Report on Global Surgery 2030,            training has continued to grow.
     Professor Shrime joins RCSI from Harvard Medical
     School and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear             In February, Ms Ailín Rogers, FRCSI, was announced
     Infirmary, where he was Director of the Center for   as the recipient of the first PROGRESS Women in
     Global Surgery Evaluation. He will lead RCSI’s       Surgery Fellowship. This prestigious bursary,
     Institute of Global Surgery in its work to address   funded by Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices
     the provision of surgical care in low and middle-    Companies, aims to give women surgeons the
     income countries.                                    opportunity to gain exceptional experience in their
                                                          chosen field, supporting their progression to
     In February, the Institute of Global Surgery, in     consultant. A second recipient will be chosen in
     partnership with the College of Surgeons of East,    2021.
     Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) and the
     College of Anaesthesiologists of Ireland (CAI),      Healthcare engagement
     launched a new multi-national anaesthesia            The National Clinical Programmes in Surgery
     partnership programme for East, Central and          continued to collaborate positively with the offices
     Southern Africa. This Department of Foreign          of the HSE Chief Clinical Officer and the National
     Affairs and Trade funded programme aims to           Group Lead of the Acute Hospital Division, in
     provide access to safer and more affordable          facilitating and promoting ‘best practice’ in surgical
     anaesthesia care for those in need of surgery in     care.
     the region.
                                                          Close cooperation between the clinical
                                                          programmes and the HSE led to the
                                                          implementation of measures to minimise the risk of
                                                          acquiring COVID-19. Guidance on the careful
                                                          planning of patient pathways, screening of patients
                                                          prior to surgery and thorough discussions with

I extend my deepest                                       patients of the additional risks involved was
                                                          developed and communicated to surgeons.

gratitude to Ireland’s
healthcare workers.
Leading the world to better health
6   RCSI ANNUAL REPORT 2019-2020

                As we moved through the first phase of the             death sentence’, was delivered by Ms. Orla
                pandemic and the community prevalence of the           McCormack, MD FRCSI and Consultant General
                virus declined, the clinical programmes worked         Surgeon at the Mater Private Dublin.
                with the HSE and the Department of Health to
                develop guidelines for a phased return to planned      Charter Day 2020
                surgical services while also formulating a recovery    We didn’t know then that the 2020 Charter Day
                plan.                                                  would be the last in-person gathering for the surgical
                                                                       community before the pandemic.
                Millin Meeting 2019
                Last October’s Millin Meeting addressed how            The Friday Charter Day Meetings featured addresses
                surgeons and surgical leaders across a range of        and panel discussions under the theme of 'Choosing
                specialisms in Ireland can manage risk in surgical     Wisely'. Speakers included Laura Magahy, Executive
                practice.                                              Director of Sláintecare; Dr Tony Sparnon, President of
                                                                       the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons; and
                Keynote addresses were delivered by healthcare         Professor Stephen Wigmore, Regius Professor of
                leaders including Dr Cathal O’Keeffe, Head of          Clinical Surgery, University of Edinburgh.
                Clinical Risk, State Claims Agency Ireland who
                spoke about learning from adverse events in order      The first survey of accredited Acute Surgical
                to advance patient safety. Dr Philip Crowley, HSE      Assessment Unit (ASAU) patients was published by
                National Director for Quality Improvement, asked if    the National Clinical Programme in Surgery during
                we are up for a true partnership to improve quality.   the annual Charter Day event. The survey showed
                Dr Cliona Murphy, Chair of the Institute of            that their experience was overwhelmingly positive,
                Obstetricians and Gynaecologists spoke to the          with satisfactory wait times and clear communication
                risky business of obstetrics and gynaecology and       of their care plan. These units give patients faster
                Professor Paul Burke, Council Member RCSI and          access to expert surgical advice when they have a
                Consultant Vascular Surgeon, University Hospital       surgical emergency.
                Limerick and St John’s Hospital, Limerick dealt with
                the of governance in avoiding risk.                    Thank you
                                                                       This is the final annual report of my term of office.
                Professor Ian Robertson, Professor Emeritus in         The 2020-2022 Council will be ably led by Professor
                Psychology at Trinity College and Co-Director of       P. Ronan O’Connell as President and Professor Laura
                the Global Brain Health Institute delivered the 27th   Viani as Vice President. I wish Professors O’Connell
                Carmichael Lecture, entitled ‘The Era of the Mind’.    and Viani every success in their respective roles,
                The 42nd Millin Lecture, entitled                      particularly understanding the challenges that lie
                ‘Oeseophagogastric Cancer Surgery; no longer a         ahead.

                                                                       I wish to also thank the Fellows and Members of the
                                                                       College. It has been a great honour to serve as
                                                                       President of your College and I greatly value the
                                                                       engagement we had during that time.

                                                                       I also offer my sincerest gratitude and best wishes to

    The clinical
                                                                       the Chief Executive, Professor Cathal Kelly, Dean of
                                                                       the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences,
                                                                       Professor Hannah McGee and their senior
    programmes worked                                                  management team. In recent years, RCSI has made
                                                                       enormous progress and enjoyed great success under
    with the HSE and the                                               their stewardship; achieving university status in 2020
                                                                       is a milestone we can all be justifiably proud of. As

    Department of Health                                               we face into turbulent times, I am confident that with
                                                                       their drive and dedication, RCSI will continue to

    to develop guidelines                                              deliver its mission of educating, nurturing and
                                                                       discovering for the benefit of human health.

    for a phased return
    to planned surgical
Leading the world to better health
RCSI ANNUAL REPORT 2019-2020   7
Leading the world to better health
8     RCSI ANNUAL REPORT 2019-2020

Council members

Mr Kenneth Mealy                                Professor P. Ronan O’Connell                    Professor John Hyland
President, RCSI; Consultant Surgeon             Vice President, RCSI; Emeritus Professor        Immediate Past-President, RCSI; Consultant
(General), Wexford General Hospital             of Surgery UCD; Consultant Surgeon, St          Surgeon (General/Colorectal)
                                                Vincent’s University Hospital

Professor Joseph G. O’Beirne                    Professor Paul Burke                            Professor Camilla Carroll
Consultant Surgeon (Trauma and                  Consultant Surgeon, Chief Academic Officer,     Consultant Surgeon (Otolaryngology Head
Orthopaedic), University Hospital Waterford     University of Limerick Hospital Group           and Neck), Royal Victoria Eye and Ear
                                                                                                Hospital, Dublin and Blackrock Clinic.

Professor Kevin Conlon                          Professor K. Simon Cross                        Ms Bridget Egan
Professor of Surgery, Trinity College Dublin;   Consultant Surgeon (Vascular/General),          Consultant Surgeon (Vascular), Tallaght
Consultant Surgeon (General/HPB), St            University Hospital Waterford                   University Hospital
Vincent’s University Hospital and Tallaght
University Hospital

Mr James Geraghty                               Professor David Healy                           Professor Thomas H. Lynch
Consultant Surgeon (General/Breast), St         Consultant Surgeon (Cardiothoracic and          Consultant Surgeon (Urological), St James’s
Vincent’s University Hospital; Associate        Transplant), St Vincent’s University Hospital   Hospital, National Lead ENT Education in
Professor in Surgery, UCD                       and Mater Misericordiae University Hospital     Primary Care
RCSI ANNUAL REPORT 2019-2020         9

The Hon. Mr Justice Peter Kelly                Mr Paddy Kenny                                  Professor Michael J. Kerin
President of the High Court                    Consultant Surgeon (Orthopaedic), Connolly      Professor and Head of Surgery, NUI Galway;
                                               Hospital Blanchardstown and The National        Consultant Surgeon (Breast/ Endocrine/
                                               Orthopaedic Hospital at Cappagh                 General), Galway University Hospital

Mr Eamon Mackle                                Professor Deborah McNamara                      Mr David Moore
Consultant Surgeon (General), Craigavon        Consultant Surgeon (General/Colorectal),        Consultant Surgeon (Trauma and
Area Hospital                                  Beaumont Hospital and Co-Lead National          Orthopaedics), Children’s Health Ireland,
                                               Clinical Programme in Surgery                   Crumlin, Tallaght University Hospital and
                                                                                               Blackrock Clinic

Ms Margaret O’Donnell                          Mr David Quinlan                                Professor H. Paul Redmond
Consultant Surgeon (Plastic, Reconstructive    Consultant Urologist, St Vincent’s Healthcare   Professor and Chairman of the Department
and Aesthetic Surgery), Blackrock Clinic and   Group                                           of Surgery at UCC and Cork University
St Vincent’s Private Hospital                                                                  Hospital Group

Roderick Ryan                                  Professor Laura Viani
Chartered Accountant                           Consultant Otolaryngologist/Neuro-otologist;
                                               Director of The National Hearing Implant and
                                               Research Centre, Beaumont Hospital/RCSI
10    RCSI ANNUAL REPORT 2019-2020

A year in numbers
        No. 1
                                                              TIMES HIGHER EDUCATION
                                                                 WORLD UNIVERSITY
                                                                  RANKINGS 2020

     from more
       than 68
     4 overseas
     Malaysia (2),
     Bahrain and
                                     surgical and emergency
                                                                Fellows and Members
                                        medicine trainees       across 86 countries

 21,000 alumni in 94 countries
RCSI ANNUAL REPORT 2019-2020     11

                                       29 collaborative
                                        agreements with
                                         industry signed
                                             in 2019
                                       €3.3m research
                                        funding in 2019

                         9%                                                 Research
                                                                           €20.9m grants
                                                                              awarded 2019
                                         36%                              Highest overall success


                26%                       female                           rate on H2020 submissions

                female                                                        of any Irish university

                                                                             Citation impact:
                                                                            RCSI’s normalised citation
                                                                          impact (2014-2018) is highest
                                                                             in Ireland and twice the
                            29% male
12   RCSI ANNUAL REPORT 2019-2020


                                                                                         Professor Cathal Kelly, Chief Executive/ Registrar

I am pleased to present this report on RCSI’s activity during 2019/2020. The
COVID-19 pandemic reshaped the year in a way we could never have anticipated.
                 Since 1784, our mission of education, research and      Our immediate priority was to ensure that our
                 service has guided our course. This holds true today    students who were due to graduate were able to
                 more than ever. We remain dedicated to delivering       complete their degrees so they could join the
                 world-class education to our students, to leveraging    workforce to help meet the needs of our
                 our research capability to respond to address key       communities nationally and internationally.
                 healthcare challenges and improve patient outcomes
                 and to foster improvements in health and wellbeing      For our final year medicine students in Dublin and
                 in Ireland and across the globe.                        Bahrain, this meant moving the clinical component of
                                                                         their exams forward by seven weeks. The logistical
                 From January, Professor Sam McConkey began              impact of this cannot be overstated and I am
                 alerting our senior management team to the need to      immensely grateful to our colleagues who made this
                 think about business continuity in the event that       possible. I am also hugely impressed with the manner
                 there would be an outbreak of COVID-19 in Ireland.      with which our students coped with this change.
                 We quickly established a business continuity
                 planning group and, from that day, our focus has        Our focus since has shifted to preparing for the
                 been on continuing to deliver a world-class             2020/2021 academic year. In early summer, we
                 education experience in the midst of very               established a number of working groups tasked with
                 challenging and ever-changing circumstances.            establishing robust safety measures in order to
                                                                         protect the health and wellbeing of our students,
                 Education                                               while ensuring that the quality of their educational
                 Once it became clear that universities in Ireland       experience is not impacted.
                 would close for a period, our community mobilised
                 rapidly, providing for the continuity of education of   We have made significant investment to ensure that
                 our undergraduate and postgraduate students, and        students can enjoy an engaging on-campus
                 equipping our staff to work remotely.                   experience. This includes substantial investment in
                                                                         health and safety measures and in creating a new
RCSI ANNUAL REPORT 2019-2020             13

                        satellite campus at Croke Park, where over 650                            James O’Donnell is leading a study investigating why
                        students will continue their learning in smaller                          patients with COVID-19 develop blood clotting
                        learning communities.                                                     abnormalities; Professor Donal O’Shea is leading a
                                                                                                  project on facial PPE sterilisation; Professor Bryan
                        These new communities will see our students taught in                     Hennessy is investigating if COVID-19 infection can
                        small groups. Students will benefit from a more                           be detected using exhaled breath condensate and
                        personalised learning experience and extracurricular/                     Professor Zena Moore is leading a project on
                        co-curricular activities will also be based around these                  preventing facial pressure ulcers in healthcare staff.
                        learning communities. This initiative has accelerated
                        an ambition that is at the heart of the transformation                    Despite the logistical challenges to research posed
                        of our curricula that is currently underway and will                      by COVID-19 pandemic, the RCSI research
                        underpin the transformational education our students                      community had great success this year in terms of
                        will enjoy in the years to come.                                          publications in top-tier journals, new industry
                                                                                                  partnerships and grant funding, particularly for
                        Research                                                                  clinical research and commercialisation. Our
                        It has been inspiring to see the global research                          researchers published a total of 1,017 PubMed
                        community respond to the pandemic and their                               indexed articles in 2019 communicating research
                        collective knowledge and understanding of the virus                       from a broad range of health science disciplines and
                        has grown enormously. Here in RCSI, our researchers                       achieved grant income of over €20 million and
                        pivoted quickly to leverage their knowledge in                            industry funding of over €2 million.
                        A number of our researchers were successful in                            As Ireland’s only singularly focused health sciences
                        securing funding from the national COVID-19 Rapid                         university and the country’s professional training
                        Response Funding Calls. For example, Professor                            body for surgery, we leveraged our expertise to
                                                                                                  support the health service and bring critical
                                                                                                  healthcare information to the public from the
                                                                                                  beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    This initiative has                                                                           Between March and July, the HSE established a

    accelerated an ambition                                                                       network of contact tracing centres and developed a
                                                                                                  national training programme for contact tracers. Over

    that is at the heart of the                                                                   3,000 people registered with the HSE’s national
                                                                                                  training programme which RCSI supported by quickly

    transformation of our
                                                                                                  providing an e-learning platform to support
                                                                                                  nationwide online training and managed access to
                                                                                                  the platform.

Pictured in December 2019 on the occasion of RCSI being authorised to use the title of university in Ireland are Professor Hannah McGee, Dean of The Faculty of Medicine
and Health Sciences; then Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh TD; then Minister of State with responsibility for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD;
and Professor Cathal Kelly, Chief Executive.
14   RCSI ANNUAL REPORT 2019-2020

                 RCSI’s Department of General Practice was involved         continuing efforts to attract excellent students,
                 in providing rapid evidence synthesis and reviews for      researchers and staff and build our partnerships and
                 the National Public Health Emergency Team in the           reputation internationally.
                 Department of Health. At the request of the HSE, the
                 National Office of Clinical Audit, based at RCSI, fast     University rankings
                 tracked the implementation of a national bed               Our number one ranking for ‘Good Health and
                 information system to provide real time updates on         Well-being’ in the Times Higher Education University
                 all ICU Bed occupancy/ availability across the             Impact Rankings 2020 was a fitting recognition of our
                 healthcare system, public and private.                     ongoing work to improve health and well-being in the
                                                                            community. This recognition of our contribution to
                 A number of RCSI experts have been prominent in            health and well-being was particularly meaningful for
                 advancing public understanding of COVID-19                 the RCSI community at a critical time for global health
                 through media and political engagement. RCSI               and as our staff and students faced, as they continue
                 Professor in Infectious Diseases Sam McConkey and          to, the challenges of working and training in support of
                 Emeritus Professor in Population Health Ruairi Brugha      the health service during the pandemic. RCSI is a
                 have been among Ireland’s leading voices on                signatory to the UN Sustainable Development Goals
                 COVID-19 since it emerged last December and their          accord and you will see how we contribute to these
                 media contributions and political briefings have           global objectives throughout this report.
                 greatly influenced public understanding and opinion.
                 July 2019 marked 10 years of RCSI educating primary        In the 2020 Times Higher Education World University
                 teachers in science through the Primary Science for        Rankings, we maintained our strong position in the top
                 Teachers initiative (PSTI). Over 300 teachers have         250 universities in the world. In an increasingly
                 participated since 2009, bringing science-based            competitive global education environment, this
                 learning and activities back to the classrooms of over     performance is testament to the commitment and
                 6,000 students.                                            innovation of our students, faculty, researchers and
                                                                            professional staff.
                 RCSI’s Institute of Global Surgery is working with
                 local partners to develop sustainable surgical care        Thank you
                 systems in low- and middle-income countries. In the        This year, more than ever, I am immensely proud to be
                 past year the programme incorporated two new               a graduate of, and now CEO, of this University.
                 projects. The Quality and Process Improvement in
                 Operating Theatres (QPOT) project is piloting in two       We have a duty to support our healthcare systems
                 busy hospitals in Tanzania and Ethiopia aiming to          around the world by training the next generation of
                 improve efficiency in surgical services and a new          expert healthcare professionals who can join the
                 partnership with the College of Anaesthesiologists of      workforce at this crucial time for global health. With
                 Ireland and CANECSA (College of Anaesthetists of           the patient at the centre of everything we do, we
                 East, Central and Southern Africa) to address the          remain dedicated to driving research which contributes
                 deficit in access to anesthesia for surgical patients in   to the global response to the virus and we stand ready
                 Africa.                                                    to serve Ireland’s national effort in every way we can.

                 University status                                          Recalling our final year medicine students who coped
                 In December, then Minister for Education and Skills        admirably with their exams being moved forward, I
                 Joe McHugh and then Minister of State for Higher           was impressed with and inspired by their resilience.
                 Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor announced that            They give me great hope that the next generation of
                 RCSI is authorised to use the title of ‘university’ in     healthcare leaders are exceptionally professional and
                 Ireland. This announcement marked a significant            resilient. A large number of people are involved in
                 milestone in our journey, recognising our impact on        educating our students and trainees. To the patients,
                 higher education in Ireland and internationally. The       clinicians and staff of our teaching hospitals, thank you
                 title university will significantly contribute to our      for your ongoing contribution and generosity.

                                                                            The adaptability and collegiality of our staff gives me
                                                                            great confidence for the future of RCSI. I want to thank

     Our researchers pivoted                                                each and every one of them for their efforts and good
                                                                            humour in dealing with the challenges of a year that

     quickly to leverage their                                              none of us will ever forget.

     knowledge in response
                                                                            Finally, I extend my heartfelt thanks to Mr Kenneth
                                                                            Mealy for the commitment and support he

     to the pandemic.
                                                                            demonstrated during his tenure as RCSI President. I
                                                                            also extend my gratitude to my colleagues on the
                                                                            Senior Management Team, and the RCSI Council, for
                                                                            their ongoing support and guidance.
RCSI ANNUAL REPORT 2019-2020        15

Senior management team

                 Professor Cathal Kelly            Jennifer Cullinane                    Eunan Friel
                 Chief Executive/ Registrar        Director of Finance                   Managing Director of
                                                                                         Healthcare Management

Aíne Gibbons                       Barry Holmes                          Abi Kelly                        Professor Hannah McGee
Director of Development,           Director of Human Resources           Director of International        Dean of the Faculty of Medicine
Alumni Relations, Fellows                                                Engagement and External          and Health Sciences
and Members                                                              Relations

Michael McGrail                    Professor Fergal O’Brien              Justin Ralph                     Kieran Ryan
Director of Corporate Strategy     Director of Research and              Chief Technology Officer         Managing Director of Surgical
                                   Innovation                                                             Affairs
16   RCSI ANNUAL REPORT 2019-2020

A year in pictures

       July                                September                         November
       Medical students take part          RCSI welcomes more that           Former US Ambassador to the
       in the Student Innovation           560 new students during           UN Samantha Power receives the
       Challenge at the 10th RCSI          Orientation Week.                 Emily Winifred Dickson Award.
       Research Summer School.

             August                            October                               December
             Alumni visit the simulation       Audience members enjoy                RCSI celebrates
             suite at 26 York Street           participation in an RCSI              authorisation to use
             during the Alumni Gathering       MyHealth Lecture on                   the title of university
             celebrations.                     arthritis and joint health.           in Ireland.
RCSI ANNUAL REPORT 2019-2020     17

January                                 March
800 second-level students               Portraits unveiled of nine              May
from across Ireland visit for           trailblazing academic leaders           Dr Caolán Reid celebrates
the annual Open Day.                    by photographer and RCSI Art            graduating from the School
                                        Award winner Amelia Stein.              of Medicine virtual conferring
                                                                                ceremony with his children.

       February                            April                                   June
       WHO Director-General Dr             Dónal Roche who achieved                Medical student and
       Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus          first place in final year               captain of Dublin’s
       receives Honorary Fellowship        medicine celebrates the                 camogie team Róisín
       of the RCSI Faculty of Nursing      first RCSI Virtual Results Day          Baker takes to the pitch in
       and Midwifery.                      with his parents.                       Croke Park, a new satellite
                                                                                   campus for RCSI.
18   RCSI ANNUAL REPORT 2019-2020

                      The robotic surgery
                 fellowship will enable
                 me to treat patients
                 with advanced pelvic
                 cancer and support
                 my progression to
                               C o ilín
                                  lor Ro
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RCSI ANNUAL REPORT 2019-2020   19


20   RCSI ANNUAL REPORT 2019-2020

                                                 Weekly webinar series
                                                 to update surgical
                                                 teams on COVID-19

                                    Core Specialty
                                    Trainees in
                                                         Core Surgical
                                    Emergency              Trainees

                                                 2 Higher
                                                 2 Surgical
                                                 6 Trainees
                     46               Advanced Specialty Emergency
                                      Medicine Trainees

                                             Continuous Professional
                                             Development Support
                                             Scheme participants
RCSI ANNUAL REPORT 2019-2020        21


                                         With the advent of the COVID-19 crisis, we have witnessed
                                         the emergence of an extraordinary global public health
                                         challenge. While adhering to COVID-19 restrictions, the
                                         Department of Surgical Affairs has adapted and reimagined
                                         its services to provide optimum support to our colleagues
Kieran Ryan
Managing Director, Surgical Affairs      on the front line.
                     As the community of healthcare professionals and           The selection process commenced at the earlier date
                     society at large works together to understand and          of Friday, 6 March, and was completed on Saturday,
                     address COVID-19 and its impacts, our objective has        14 March, in advance of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
                     been to provide clarity, guidance and a comprehensive      announcing the lockdown in Ireland on 27 March.
                     suite of resources for surgical trainees, surgeons in      The quality of the process was maintained and
                     practice and their patients.                               subsequent feedback was excellent. In total, 60 core
                                                                                surgical trainees and 43 higher surgical trainees were
                     As the COVID-19 crisis spread across the world during      appointed, with all available places being filled.
                     February and March 2020, the Department of Surgical
                     Affairs was embarking on what is traditionally one of      This initiative was marked by a co-operative
                     our busiest periods, driven in particular by the process   approach from all concerned and an enhanced
                     of selecting trainees to our national programmes in        sense of togetherness. Its success was a testament
                     both Core Surgical Training and Higher Training.           to the hard work, pragmatism and dedication of the
                                                                                specialties, the trainers and the trainees, as well as
                     We were conscious that our trainees would face             the commitment and expertise of the Surgical Affairs
                     unprecedented challenges when COVID-19 patients            team and the IT team in RCSI.
                     reached the hospitals, exacerbated by factors such as
                     heavy demands on ICUs, disruption of normal services
                     and an anxiety around the virus itself. Therefore,
                                                                                Continuity of supports
                     with the crisis looming, we took the decision to bring     and services
                     forward trainee interviews and selection by three weeks    With the advent of the lockdown in Ireland,
                     in order to protect the integrity of the process and       appropriate steps were taken to ensure that working
                     ensure it was completed satisfactorily.                    from home was supported for all 70 staff within
                                                                                Surgical Affairs. Our IT systems were configured to
                                                                                optimise remote access, while equipment and laptops
                                                                                were supplied to employees as required.

    Our objective has                                                           This enabled us to mitigate the disruptive effects

    been to provide
                                                                                of the lockdown on day-to-day activities, ensuring
                                                                                that processes such as the appointments of trainees
                                                                                to their posts and administrative work such as the
    clarity, guidance and a                                                     planning of rotations could proceed.

    comprehensive suite of                                                      Protecting trainee
    resources for surgical                                                      In response to the cancellation of surgical lists and

    trainees, surgeons                                                          outpatient clinics, as well as the cancellation of
                                                                                the MRCS and FRCS examinations, we moved to

    in practice and their
                                                                                quickly reassure trainees that these extraordinary
                                                                                circumstances would be fully taken into account

                                                                                in relation to their progress through the training

                                                                                Discussions with employers, regulators and agencies
22      RCSI ANNUAL REPORT 2019-2020

Pictured at the 2020 National Surgical Skills Competition for medical schools across the Island of Ireland are (l-r) Mr Kenneth Mealy, President; Sarah Shanahan (second
place); Ms Leonie Heskin Simulation Technology Development Lead in Postgraduate Surgical Education; Michael Towers, (third place); Prof. Oscar Traynor, Professor of
Postgraduate Surgical Education; and Abidur Rahman, winner of the competition.

                        involved in the delivery of surgical training regarding                   trainers. Face-to-face clinical skills work that could
                        promotion, competency and assessment were initiated                       not be delivered via digital platforms took place
                        and are ongoing to ensure that trainees are not                           in RCSI in July. The commitment and hard work of
                        disadvantaged. We have been working closely with                          all concerned ensured that Surgical Bootcamp was
                        the JCST (Joint Committee on Surgical Training), the                      completed in full and in compliance with COVID-19
                        advisory body to the four surgical Royal Colleges of                      restrictions on social distancing.
                        Ireland and the UK, for all matters related to surgical
                        training to mitigate to the greatest extent possible the                  One of the most significant developments that arose
                        impact of COVID-19 on training delivery.                                  from our COVID-19 response was the accelerated
                                                                                                  adoption of digital platform solutions, driven by our
                        All the bodies involved in surgical training are working                  surgical specialities, to address training challenges
                        together to find the safest and most pragmatic                            presented by the pandemic. These digital solutions
                        solutions to the current situation. Detailed plans                        proved highly effective and are set to become a
                        are being prepared to address all foreseeable                             more permanent feature of training delivery into the
                        contingencies, and we are continually updating                            future.
                        information on all aspects of training, with a view
                        to providing trainers and trainees with the greatest
                        possible levels of clarity and certainty.
                                                                                                  Supporting surgeons
                                                                                                  in practice
                                                                                                  As the community prevalence of COVID-19 fell, the
                        Surgical Bootcamp                                                         demands on critical healthcare resources declined
                        The delivery of the annual summer Surgical Bootcamp,                      from May onwards, and the risk of acquiring
                        an intensive tuition in basic surgical skills and basic                   COVID-19 in the perioperative period also declined.
                        management principles for surgical patients, was                          The RCSI National Clinical Programmes in Surgery
                        reimagined to align with COVID-19 restrictions.                           and Trauma and Orthopaedics worked with the
                                                                                                  HSE and the Department of Health on developing
                        The Surgical Bootcamp trainers and education leads                        guidelines for a phased return to planned surgical
                        adapted the training elements of the programme and                        services while also formulating a recovery plan. The
                        the accompanying lecture-based content for delivery                       acute hospitals subgroup of the Expert Advisory
                        online.                                                                   Group to the National Public Health Emergency
                                                                                                  Team (NPHET), which Professor Deborah McNamara,
                        Innovative, take-home skills kits were provided,                          Joint National Clinical Lead, National Clinical
                        whereby trainees were supplied with essential                             Programme in Surgery (NCPS) sits on, developed
                        equipment that enabled them to practice skills at home                    protocols for elective surgery pathways, which
                        while being guided, observed and instructed online by                     NPHET approved.
RCSI ANNUAL REPORT 2019-2020            23

                       Measures were implemented to minimise the risk of                       As part of this suite of initiatives, RCSI hosted a weekly
                       acquiring COVID-19 through careful planning of patient                  webinar series that updated surgical teams on the
                       pathways, screening of patients prior to surgery and                    latest developments and their implications for surgical
                       thorough discussions with patients of the additional                    practice. The series commenced in April. The webinars
                       risks involved. Guidance on these matters was                           facilitated a sharing of experiences and expertise,
                       developed by the NCPS and RCSI, and this detailed                       providing valuable information and updates on:
                       guidance was regularly updated on the RCSI website.                     adaptations in surgical practice to deal with COVID-19,
                                                                                               the type of patient presentations that were being seen,
                                                                                               and the challenges faced by the different specialties
                       Curated resources                                                       in organising patient services and dealing with
                       The Department of Surgical Affairs collated a series of                 emergencies.
                       curated resources for surgeons in practice, trainees and
                       other professionals involved in frontline patient care                  The series proved highly successful and will be
                       during the COVID-19 epidemic. The suite of resources                    established as a permanent service beginning in
                       was, and continues to be, reviewed and updated                          September 2020.
                       regularly to address the evolving circumstances.                        Other resources provided include:
                                                                                               • publications and national guidelines on the evolving
                                                                                                  management of patient and safety precautions to be

     All the bodies involved                                                                      taken by surgeons during the COVID-19 pandemic,
                                                                                                  developed by RCSI National Clinical Programmes, in

     in surgical training are
                                                                                                  conjunction with individual and institutional partners;
                                                                                               • the collation of a selection of resources on COVID-19

     working together to
                                                                                                  by the RCSI Library, including search strategies
                                                                                                  for medical databases, government websites and
                                                                                                  national healthcare websites; and,
     find the safest and most                                                                  • GP-Surgeons Connect, an initiative by RCSI and
                                                                                                  the ICGP which provided rapid connection of GPs

     pragmatic solutions to                                                                       with surgeon advisors to enhance facilitation of safe
                                                                                                  management of their patients – the service operated

     the current situation.                                                                       for 12 weeks during the height of the COVID-19

Pictured at RCSI’s Charter Day Meetings in February 2020 were Mr Kenneth Mealy, President; Laura Magahy, Executive Director of Sláintecare Implementation Office;
and Dr Tony Sparnon, President, Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.
24     RCSI ANNUAL REPORT 2019-2020

Mariam Gasim and Dr Yazan Mammud (MRCSI) pictured at the July 2019 Conferring Ceremony

                     Positive mental health                                              that individuals can cope and be at their best,
                     RCSI recognises that healthcare professionals will                  personally and professionally. These include a
                     face many stressful situations during and after                     guide to websites providing relevant information
                     the COVID-19 crisis and has facilitated access to                   and advice, access to health and well-being
                     resources that can provide support in ensuring                      podcasts and videos, and a guide to online self-
                                                                                         help groups.

                                                                                         Beyond the COVID-19
     The Department of                                                                   response
     Surgical Affairs collated
                                                                                         While the reporting period was dominated by
                                                                                         the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and our
                                                                                         responses to the challenges it has presented, we
     a series of curated                                                                 continued to deliver, where possible, significant
                                                                                         advances in our strategic objectives for surgical

     resources for surgeons                                                              training and practice.

     in practice, trainees                                                               Mentorship programme
                                                                                         for trainees
     and other professionals                                                             In February 2020, we launched a mentorship

     involved in frontline
                                                                                         programme for trainees across all the specialties.
                                                                                         Developed in consultation with the Irish Surgical

     patient care during the
                                                                                         Training Group, the programme represents an
                                                                                         expansion of a mentorship initiative that had been
                                                                                         running in the trauma and orthopaedics specialty
     COVID-19 epidemic.                                                                  for some years.
RCSI ANNUAL REPORT 2019-2020        25

RCSI welcomed the first
intake to the Masters
in Surgical Science
and Practice degree
                                                                Christina Buckley,
                                                                Specialist Trainee
     The working group that drove this initiative was           I am a Plastic Surgery Specialist Registrar in my
     chaired by Mr David Moore, Council Member and              penultimate year of Specialist Training (ST7).
     Orthopaedic Surgeon, and the programme proved to
     be a positive and timely development, particularly in      Initially the COVID-19 pandemic brought about
     light of the COVID-19 crisis. The programme provides       a huge change in surgical practice with an
     opportunities for trainees to engage with senior people    initial complete halt in operative activity as well
     who can help guide them in decisions around their          as instantaneous virtual outpatient practice.
     career choices in these uncertain times.                   Thankfully, a large percentage of surgical trainees
                                                                were in a position to operate alongside their

     PROGRESS Women                                             consultants in private institutions and model
                                                                3 hospitals during the outsourcing of elective
     in Surgery Fellowship                                      surgical work during the pandemic which allowed
     In February, Ms Ailín Rogers, FRCSI, was announced as      some semblance of ongoing training. However,
     the recipient of the first PROGRESS Women in Surgery       deferral of Intercollegiate examinations and
     Fellowship. The award will enable Ms Rogers to             fellowship opportunities abroad have negatively
     commence a fellowship at the Royal Marsden Hospital        impacted a significant number of surgical
     in London in robotic colorectal surgery and multi-         trainees. Overall, as this pandemic continues
     visceral resection for advanced pelvic malignancy.         to affect every aspect of life, the real impact of
     This prestigious new bursary, funded by Johnson &          COVID-19 on surgical training remains to be seen
     Johnson Medical Devices Companies, aims to give            over the coming years.
     women surgeons the opportunity to gain exceptional
     experience in their chosen field, supporting their         During the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year,
     progression to consultant.                                 I was President of the Irish Surgical Training
                                                                Group. The Department of Surgical Affairs in RCSI

     Masters in Surgical Science                                through Kieran Ryan and Padraig Kelly offered
                                                                ongoing and genuine support to the entire
     and Practice                                               surgical trainee group. They regularly liaised and
     In September 2019, RCSI welcomed the first intake to       updated us on current issues and events as the
     the Masters in Surgical Science and Practice (MSSP)        pandemic unfolded. A COVID-19 resource hub
     degree programme. The inaugural class completed            was rapidly established which provided a series of
     the MSSP programme in May 2020. Designed and led           helpful resources for surgeons as well as a weekly
     by Professor Oscar Traynor, the programme covers the       webinar series on the most up to date information
     entire curriculum for Core Surgical Training, as defined   regarding COVID-19. RCSI specifically hosted
     by the Intercollegiate Surgical Curriculum Programme,      a webinar on how to sustain surgical training
     in one year.                                               during the COVID-19 pandemic which allowed
                                                                the trainees to give their perspective in this very
                                                                important conversation.
       ››› Read about the Institute of Global Surgery
           on page 60                                           RCSI’s commitment to searching for solutions over
                                                                the coming months to ensure that no surgical
                                                                trainee will be disadvantaged by the implications
       ››› For RCSI Postgraduate Surgical Awards               of COVID-19 has been very reassuring during this
           2020, see page 91                                    uncertain time.
26   RCSI ANNUAL REPORT 2019-2020

                     The teaching faculty
                 and the wider RCSI
                 community worked
                 vigorously to ensure the
                 seamless transition from
                 face-to-face teaching to
                 online lectures.

                                           io t
                                                       ra p
                                                                  de           E
                                                                            , C mm
                                                                               la s a H
                                                                                   s o or
                                                                                      f 2 an,
RCSI ANNUAL REPORT 2019-2020   27

                                       learning experience
                                       A transformative

28    RCSI ANNUAL REPORT 2019-2020

                                              Virtual TeleSim
                                              programme to simulate
                                              clinical undergraduate

     Accelerated development
     of learning communities

                                                      70   faculty
                                                      to enhance
                                                      delivery of

                             return rate to
                             census in
                                                   virtual International
                             COVID-19 crisis       Education Forum

 3,500                                        one-to-one personal
                                              consultations with
                                              CoMPPAS team
RCSI ANNUAL REPORT 2019-2020        29

A transformative
learning experience

                                                                                                                                                       learning experience
                                                                                                                                                       A transformative
                                               The Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences adapted to
Professor Hannah McGee
                                               the impact of COVID-19 quickly and effectively to maintain
Dean of the Faculty of Medicine
and Health Sciences                            continuity of education across its Schools.

                                                                                         A fast, effective response
                                                                                         When COVID-19 measures were implemented, the
                                                                                         faculty was optimally positioned to maximise online
                                                                                         availability of educational programmes and student
                                                                                         services. This was facilitated to a great extent by
                                                                                         RCSI’s long-standing pro-active technology policy
                                                                                         which encourages early adoption of innovative
                                                                                         solutions, exemplified by initiatives such as the
                                                                                         provision of a laptop for every student.

                                                                                         Another factor that accelerated adaptation to the
                                                                                         new ‘normal’ was the establishment of a 70-strong
                                                                                         group of tech-adept colleagues across the faculty.

                                                                                         These ‘super-users’ acted as a bridge between
                                                                                         the IT Department and the wider academic and
                                                                                         professional staff, enhancing the efficiency of our
                                                                                         delivery of technological solutions.

                                                                                         The imagination and tenacity demonstrated by
                                                                                         faculty staff in supporting students, particularly
                                                                                         those facing final examinations and completing
                                                                                         degree courses, were crucial factors in the success
                                                                                         of our COVID-19 response. Those qualities, for
                                                                                         example, underpinned the decision to fast-track
                                                                                         our clinical examinations in order to ensure
                                                                                         that students graduated as safe and capable
                                                                                         health professionals. Our students reacted to
                                                                                         this extraordinary, but necessary, measure with
                                                                                         forbearance and flexibility, illustrating the depth of
                                                                                         trust between them and our clinicians, academics
                                                                                         and professional staff. Reflecting the serious
                                                                                         commitment of all concerned, the main final clinical
                                                                                         examinations for medicine were completed by
                                                                                         12 March, prior to the introduction of the Irish
                                                                                         Government’s COVID-19 measures.

                                                                                         Dedication to excellence
                                                                                         Attaining a long-held objective, RCSI was granted
                                                                                         university status in December 2019. All of the
In November 2019 medical student Suaad Alshleh was awarded the Professor William C       Schools at the Faculty of Medicine and Health
Campbell Bursary, which recognises the work of the Donegal Nobel Prize winner, by then
Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh TD.
                                                                                         Sciences contributed to this success, not only
30    RCSI ANNUAL REPORT 2019-2020

                   during the years since the granting of degree-
                   awarding status in 2010, but through decades
                   of consistent accomplishment. The volume and
                   standard of the National Qualifications Framework
                   Level 9 and Level 10 research degrees were
                   particularly important in this landmark achievement
                   and the School of Postgraduate Studies is to be
                   commended for its contribution.

                   The delivery of Transforming Healthcare Education
                   Project (THEP) 2, scheduled for September 2022,
                   advanced significantly, driven by the third annual
                   planning workshop held in October 2019, and the
                   Ninth International Education Forum held in June
                   2020, which focused on innovation in education. The
                   Forum took place in a virtual format that was very
                   successful. Increased accessibility and engagement
                   for more of our colleagues in international sites was     Javed Machikan, Medicine,
                   a benefit of this format and a good lesson for the
                                                                             Class of 2020 and RCSI
                                                                             Student Union President
                                                                             Much like the butterfly effect, many seemingly
                                                                             minute decisions can go on to change your life
                                                                             forever. RCSI’s decision to expedite our final
                                                                             medical exams brought with it a hurricane of
                                                                             emotions and events that swept across, not only
     Honorary Doctorates                                                     the class of 2020, but across Ireland as a whole.
     RCSI Honorary Doctorates are awarded to recognise people
     who have made an outstanding contribution to society and each           I still remember hearing the Head of School of
     recipient makes a commencement address at the RCSI graduation           Medicine saying that our final med exams will be
     ceremony to inspire our new graduates. Two honorary doctorates
                                                                             in three days and the feelings of fear and despair
     were conferred at Postgraduate Academic Award ceremonies in
                                                                             that ensued. It is only in retrospect that I realise
     November 2019.
                                                                             the courage and foresight needed to make such a
                                                                             bold decision.
                                     Professor Adrienne Flanagan
                                     was honoured for her research
                                                                             By allowing us to complete our exams months
                                     contributions to the molecular
                                     classification for primary bone         in advance, RCSI guaranteed that we would
                                     tumours resulting in the introduction   not only be able to graduate on time but
                                     of diagnostics markers, which are       more importantly be ready for the impending
                                     now used globally. A graduate           pandemic.
                                     of RCSI (Medicine, 1981), she is
                                     Head of Academic Pathology at           The latter feat was far more important to my
                                     UCL, Clinical Lead for the London       classmates and I. We felt so frustrated knowing
                                     Sarcoma Service and the Royal
                                                                             that our fellow healthcare workers were being
                                     National Orthopaedic Hospital
                                                                             overwhelmed by the health crisis of a lifetime, yet
                                     and Head of the Bone Pathology
                                     Network UK.                             we were only one step away from joining them on
                                                                             the frontlines.
                                     Dr David Ansell was recognised
                                     for his research and advocacy to        Over the past few years and certainly the past
                                     eliminate health inequities. Dr         few months, RCSI has taught me what it actually
                                     Ansell is the Presidential Professor    means to be leaders in healthcare. And, although
                                     of Internal Medicine and Senior         I never got my chance at a formal graduation,
                                     Vice President/Associate Provost        I truly felt more pride walking into Connolly
                                     for Community Health Equity at          Hospital on my first day as a doctor, than I ever
                                     Rush University Medical Center          would walking across any stage.
                                     in Chicago. His books include
                                     “County: Life, Death and Politics at
                                     Chicago’s Public Hospital” and “The
                                     Death Gap: How Inequality Kills.
RCSI ANNUAL REPORT 2019-2020       31

                                           Professor Arnold Hill
                                           Head of School of Medicine

                                                                                                                               learning experience
                                                                                                                               A transformative
      School of Medicine                                           for COVID-19 patients in intensive care units in
      In unprecedented circumstances, the School of                Beaumont and Connolly hospitals. Their primary role
      Medicine has acted with decisiveness and agility,            was to administer the prone positioning technique,
      adapting to the challenges presented by the spread of        completely repositioning intubated patients by lifting
      COVID-19 while identifying opportunities to accelerate       and turning them every 16 hours, thereby helping
      the delivery of a transformed healthcare education           them breathe more easily.
      experience for students.
                                                                   When the volunteers were stood down after three
      Pragmatic response                                           months as circumstances improved, the intensive
      In early February, expert opinion on the implications        care unit clinicians whom they had worked alongside
      of the spread of COVID-19 led us to take the                 commended their selfless contribution.
      unprecedented step of bringing forward final
      examinations for our medical students. The move was          Transforming learning
      taken to minimise disruption to educational continuity,      While COVID-19 has presented many challenges,
      avoid delays in the graduation of the final year class and   it has also accelerated several of the educational
      ensure the examination process proceeded in a safe           initiatives that were already under consideration
      and orderly manner.                                          or underway within the first part of the two-phase
                                                                   Transforming Healthcare Education Project (THEP).
      Our students responded with a positive, pragmatic            For example, we have ramped up the development
      attitude that facilitated the successful graduation of       of learning communities, whereby the traditional class
      the class of 2020 and enabled them to join the frontline     is reimagined as a collection of small communities,
      of healthcare as qualified doctors to help combat            with the students within each community progressing
      the global pandemic. It was an inspiring example             together for the duration of their RCSI experience. We
      of the University’s ability to adapt even in the most        have taken the opportunity, inadvertently presented
      challenging circumstances.                                   by the COVID-19 crisis, to drive the implementation of
                                                                   small group teaching in recent months, and all tutorials
      Extraordinary contribution                                   are now limited to a maximum of three students.
      In April, echoing the adaptability and dedication
      shown by our final year students, a group of more            The impact of the pandemic has only served to
      than two dozen RCSI medical students volunteered             underline the critical importance of the transformative
      to work alongside frontline healthcare workers caring        direction we have taken with THEP. Inevitably, some
                                                                   elements of the next phase of THEP will differ from
                                                                   what was planned prior to COVID-19. However,
                                                                   the strategic vision that drives the project has

It was an inspiring                                                demonstrated its fitness for purpose during the last
                                                                   four months and will guide us as we pilot key initiatives

example of the
                                                                   in preparation for delivery of THEP 2 by September

University’s ability to
adapt even in the
most challenging
32     RCSI ANNUAL REPORT 2019-2020

                                                                   Professor Tracy Robson
                                                                   Head of School of Pharmacy
                                                                   and Biomolecular Sciences

                        School of Pharmacy and                                           Exam so that they will be able to safely undertake
                        Biomolecular Sciences                                            their final assessment and enter the workforce as the
                                                                                         first graduates from the five-year integrated MPharm
                        The past academic year has been one of significant               Programme. Similarly, the final year of the National
                        change with the merger of the School of Pharmacy with            Pharmacy Internship Programme was completed,
                        the Department of Molecular and Cellular Therapeutics            and provisions were made for the final Professional
                        to become the School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular                Registration Examination for these students.
                                                                                         During this time, the MPharm Programme underwent
                        The merger has created a critical mass of teaching and           full accreditation, and the PSI continued to grant
                        research, allowing it to further evolve into a vibrant           recognition of the programme for the maximum five
                        centre for the education of tomorrow’s leaders. The              year period. The accreditation team commended
                        school has developed a new five year strategic plan,             the evidence-informed approach to curriculum
                        focused on growth and complementing the wider RCSI               development, the state-of-the-art simulation suite
                        Strategy. The school is committed to becoming one of             and the commitment of simulation suite staff in
                        the leading centres for pharmacy and health sciences             supporting the school in its plans for innovative
                        education.                                                       teaching. The team also commended the range of
                                                                                         research opportunities for students and the positive
                        The School has now rolled out the final year of the              and collaborative relationships evident between staff,
                        MPharm programme, with students undertaking                      reflecting the success of the merger. Our innovations in
                        post-graduate level, full-time taught modules before             teaching were also recognised by the National Forum
                        embarking on an eight-month period of patient-                   for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education through
                        facing experiential learning. During their time on               the award of Ireland’s inaugural Teaching and Learning
                        placement, our students rose to the challenge of being           Research Fellowship to Dr Michelle Flood.
                        frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
                        Acknowledged by the Pharmaceutical Society of                    The school had a rapid response to the COVID-19
                        Ireland (PSI) as core members of the pharmacy team,              pandemic. The staff of the School worked tirelessly
                        students opted to work additional hours to provide               to ensure academic standards were maintained in
                        healthcare services. We are very proud of our students           accordance with QQI and PSI requirements, balanced
                        and have worked with APPEL and the other schools of              with a no detriment approach for students. We
                        pharmacy to redesign the final Professional Registration         continue to plan for the safe return to education for
                                                                                         all our students, and are committed to providing an
                                                                                         engaged learning environment.

                                                                                         As part of its growth phase, the School of Pharmacy
                                                                                         and Biomolecular Sciences is building on our significant
                                                                                         research and teaching expertise to develop new
                                                                                         innovative programmes for postgraduate students.
                                                                                         These programmes will give further options to
                                                                                         students to upskill for roles in the pharmaceutical
                                                                                         and biopharmaceutical industry or act as a pathway
                                                                                         to PhD research. Similarly, other programmes will
                                                                                         offer development opportunities for healthcare
                                                                                         professionals to prepare them to face the challenges
                                                                                         of an increasingly complex healthcare environment.
                                                                                         International outlook is important to us, and we
                                                                                         continue to pursue our collaboration with Soochow
                                                                                         University, China, through delivery of our international
MPharm student, Aoife Ní Mhuircheartaigh, providing frontline care while on her Year 5   Clinical Pharmacy programme as well as broadening
                                                                                         our joint educational offerings.
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